Liupanshui Minghu Wetland Park
Liupanshui Minghu Wetland Park is located along the Shuicheng River, Liupanshui City. The objectives of the park project were to restore the natural ecology of the river, upgrade the urban open space system, and increase the value of urban waterfront land. Shuicheng River has had severe pollution that diminished its capacity for natural flood control and ecological self-purification over time.
The revitalization project started out with creating a series of terraced wetlands with different capacities of purification in order to regulate urban flood and recharge the river water. Native plantings and wildflower fields were reintroduced to the riverbank, while a network of pedestrian and biking trails were added to integrate urban recreation into the ecological space.
“With little funding, the designers of this wetland restoration project were still able to make something poetic. . . It just doesn’t look like a wetland – you can see the hand of the designer. You can tell they’re actually cleaning the water with the design” – Jury Comment/ASLA Awards
Liupanshui is an industrial city that was built in the mid 1960’s. The population of this city is about 0.6 million. Due to this city’s size in proportion to its population it becomes a highly densely packed Peri-urban city. The development of this habitat recovery park came about when the city government commissioned a landscape architect to develop a solution that would address multiple problems within their site.
These problems include water pollution, floor and storm inundation, habitat recovery and creating of public space for gathering as well as aesthetic enjoyment. Water Cleansing was one of the city’s main target problems because Liupanshui had once been a heavy industrial city. As a industrial city it was dominated by coal steel and cement industries. These pollutions caused the cities inhabitants to suffer from air and water pollution. A major polluter of the water was a result from deposits of the air pollution falling onto the hillsides and then washing into the river.
This along with chemical fertilizer and sewage quickly polluted Liupanshui’s water. Another problem that had to be solved was the floods that occurred during the monsoon season and the severe droughts that occurred in the dry season. This had been previously addressed by creating a channel that transmitted the water upstream but this however caused severe flooding problems upstream.
The main strategy of Turenscape was to slow the flow of water from the hillside slopes by creating a water based ecological infrastructure that would retain flood season waters. By doing this the water would become the main source in regenerating a healthy ecosystem. This ecosystem would provide a low maintenance healthy ecosystem that would inturn transform the park into an aesthetically beautiful landscape.
First existing bodies of water are linked to water retention ponds and purification wetlands, each having their own capacity. Doing this decreases urban flooding as well as allowing the water to freely flow between ponds. Second the concrete river embankment of the river was removed and a natural riverbank was restored. This enhances the rivers self purification potential.
Thirdly Terraced wetlands are intoduced to the site in order to regulate seasonal rainwater. These terraces are inspired by the local farming techniques that catch and retain water and transform steep slopes into productive fields. Their positions, forms and despths are also based on geographis information and a water flor analysis. Lastly creation of continuos paths of public spaces are created. These paths allow easier access to the river front. They also integrate the urban recreation and ecological spaces.
Removal of the river embankment was, in my opinion, one of the major successful design strategies. This created two ecological zones . One encouraged native vegetation while the other had vegetation sewn into its riverbed. Hence producing an ecosystem that is low maintenance and self cleansing. Also I found the terraced wetlands and retention ponds, that were created to regulate water inundation during rainwater season, to be a very successful design strategy. More specifically the inspiration behind these designs were the techniques used by local farmers. These farmers take steep slopes and perpendicularly cut into them creating a stair shaped land. They then carve into the flat area of the land to create vacant “ponds” that then hold rainwater. They repeat this process on each flat area.
Creation of aesthetically beautiful public spaces is another very clever design strategy. This reminds Liupanshui’s residents to slow down and appreciate the beauty of the landscape that had once been forgotten as well as ensuring that the residents maintain its beauty for future generations.
Through a series of regenerative design techniques, particularly measures to slow down the flow of storm-water, a channelized concrete river and a deteriorated peri-urban site have been transformed into a nationally celebrated wetland park that functions as a major part of the city-wide ecological infrastructure planned to provide multiple ecosystem services, including storm-water management, water cleansing, and recovery of native habitats, as well as a creation of a cherished public space for gathering and aesthetic enjoyment.
Objectives and Challenges:
Liupanshui, known for its cool plateau climate, is an industrial city built in mid 1960s in a valley surrounded by limestone hills, with the River Shuichenghe running though it. With an area of 60 square kilometers, the city is densely inhabited by a population of 0.6 million. As an element of a major campaign of environmental improvement the city government commissioned the landscape architect to develop a holistic strategy to address multiple serious problems including:
- 1. Water pollution: As one of the major heavy industrial cities built during the cold war period, Liupanshui has been dominated by coal, steel and cement industries. Consequently, the citizens have suffered with the resulting by air and water pollution for a long time. From the industrial chimneys, decades of air pollution deposits fell onto the surrounding slopes and washed into the river along with the storm-water that also carries the chemical fertilizer runoffs from the farm land on the slopes and sewage from the scattered settlements on the slope;
- 2. Flood and storm-water inundation: Situated in the valley, the city is subject to floods and storm-water inundation during the monsoon season, but also severe drought in the dry season due to the porous limestone geology;
- 3. Recovery of the mother river: Channelization of the River Shuichenghe was carried out in the 1970s as a solution to inundation and flooding. The channel transmited the storm-water from upstream but caused even more severe flooding problems downstream. Hence, the former meandering mother river became an ugly concrete, lifeless ditch and its capacity for flood retention and environmental remediation was totally lost;
- 4. Creation of public space: Recreation and green spaces are inadequate due to the population explosion in the city. The water system that was once a blessing to the city has become a deserted backyard, garbage dump and the dangerous backside of the city. Pedestrian access to a restored green space system is badly needed in such a densely populated community. The strategy is to slow the flow of water from the hillside slopes and create a water-based ecological infrastructure that will retain and remediate the storm-water, and make water the active agent in regenerating a healthy ecosystem to provide natural and cultural services that transform the industrial city into a livable human habitat.
The submitted Liupanshui Minghu Wetland Park project, 90 hectares (222 acres) in size, is the first phase and a major part of the comprehensive ecological infrastructure project planned for the city by the landscape architect. For the overall ecological infrastructure, the landscape architect focused both on the Shuicheng River drainage basin and the city. Firstly, existing streams, wetlands, and low-lying land are all integrated into a storm-water management and ecological purification system linked by the river, forming a series of water retention ponds and purification wetlands with different capacities. This approach not only minimizes urban flooding but also increases the base flow to sustain river water flow after the rainy season. Secondly, the concrete embankment of the channelized river was removed. A natural riverbank was restored to revitalize the riparian ecology and maximize the river’s self-purification capacity. Thirdly, continuous public spaces were created to contain pedestrian and bicycle paths increasing access to the riverfront. These corridors integrate the urban recreation and ecological spaces. Lastly, the project combines waterfront development and river restoration. The ecological infrastructure catalyzes urban renewal efforts in Liupanshui, significantly increases land values, and enhances urban vitality. As one of the major projects included in the ecological infrastructure of Liupanshui, the Minghu Wetland Park features ecological restoration of the upper stream section of the channelized river. Minghu Wetland Park was created on a site composed of deteriorated wetland patches, abandoned fish ponds and strips of mismanaged corn fields. Its pre-development condition was dominated by garbage dumps and polluted water. As a demonstration of the ecological infrastructure project, this first phase project was designed using all of the tactics for rebuilding ecological health leading to the recovery of biodiversity and native habitat, retention and water quality improvement of storm-water, and public access to high quality open space, and finally a catalyst for urban development. The specific park elements that achieve these objectives are listed below.
- 1. The concrete river embankment was removed to create two ecological zones. One encourages native vegetation to grow within the flood zone and the other establishes conditions for emergent vegetation in the riverbed. Aerating cascades were created along the river to add oxygen that fosters bio-remediation of the nutrient-rich water.
- 2. Terraced wetlands and retention ponds were created to reduce peak water flow and regulate the seasonal rainwater. The terraces are inspired by the local farming techniques that catch and retain water and transform steep slopes into productive fields. Their positions, forms and depths were based on geographic information and a water flow analysis. Native vegetation was planted (mostly sown) to establish associations adapted to the various water and soil conditions. These terraced habitats slow the flow of water and speed nutrient removal from the water by microorganism and plant species that use excess nutrients as resources for rapid growth
- 3. Pedestrian paths and bicycle routes are overlaid on the green spaces along the waterways and form a circuit around and between the wetland terraces. Resting platforms with abundant seats, pavilions and a viewing tower are integrated into the designed natural system for universal access. This fosters learning, recreational and aesthetic landscape experiences. An environmental interpretation system was designed to help visitors understand the natural and cultural meaning of the places. Clearly, the most iconic built artifact is a warm-colored rainbow bridge, in contrast with the frequently cool and damp climate. This causeway connects three sides of the central wetland (lake), creating unforgettable walking and gathering places. These have quickly become favored social and recreational environments of the citizens and attract visitors from near and far. Through these landscape techniques, the deteriorated water system and peri-urban wasteland has been successfully transformed into a high-performance and low maintenance municipal front yard. It beautifully regulates storm-water, cleans contaminated water, restores native habitats for biodiversity, and attracts residents and tourists. It was officially designated as a National Wetland Park in China in 2013.
Project name: Minghu Wetland Park
Location: Liupanshui, Guizhou, China
Coordinates: 26.583518, 104.806569
Type: Park, Public Space
Project Area: Concept design—90ha, Construction Design—31.2ha
Design Period: Semptember ,2009-April ,2011
Completion Year: 2012-8
Client / Owner / Developer: Liupanshui Municipality
Landscape Architects: Turenscape – Room 401Innovation Center,Peking University Science Park,127-1, Zhongguancun North Street, Haidian District, Beijing P.R. China
Project Lead: Kongjian Yu
- Bo Luan, Bin Yan, Gang Huang, Junyan Zheng, Meina Shan, Xin Fan, Shizheng Li, Lin Chen, Zhen Bai, Yu Zhang, Jianfei An, Hongkai You, Yin Liu, Yeqi Cao, Zhang Deng, Ye Yang, Yue Li, Yizhen Ren, Xu Song, Dehua Liu, XIaofeng Zhang, Jie Bai, Jinfeng Zhang, Tuo Liu, Junying Cao
Text Description: © Courtesy of Turenscape, ASLA Awards
Images: © Turenscape, Kongjian YU, mhsdgy